Attitudinal Change: A hungry man is an angry man

19 April 2008 at 09:05 | 1060 views

By Mohamed C. Bah, President, Sierra Leone Community Association of Atlanta, USA.

I want to add my voice to the attitudinal campaign that is growing in leaps and bounds in Sierra Leone and across the Diaspora.

I think attitudinal change must also come with environmental changes.In the arena of human philosophy, Dr.King once said "that the mind is the standard of the man." I do seriously believe that what surrounds us affects our ability to think and react in many cases ( I don’t mean all cases). A lot of behaviors are environmental and not necessarily biological.

I support the pro- attitudinal change campaign and applauded our government’s effort in this direction, because I have said this in many circles that "what we need in Africa and in Sierra Leone is a new way of thinking".

However,I strongly believe that we must complement this attitude drive with basic human progress like creating a manufacturing and producing nation instead of a merely consumer country.We must move forward to self-sufficiency such as feeding ourselves where we grow our own rice instead of importing.We must do away with this donor-driven mentality and become economically or fiscally responsible to operate our government through our revenues/tax systems.We must begin to ask ourselves how can we be the world’s richest mineral/human resources continent but we cannot feed our people?.

We must not use workshops only to teach our fellow citizens about changing their attitude because we think we can regulate their behaviors.We must give them a reason to believe that a change in thinking and believing in themselves,their community and government can open the door to better things for them.The government must lead the "attitudinal change" first by demonstrating their transparency,trust and commitment to the oath of their public offices.

A change in attiude must be on two fronts:The government and the citzens of Sierra Leone.

Access to electricity for instance is a direct attitudinal change- of good behavior on the government end- because it restores some sense of light and hope in the political apparatus.Creating a job driven economy where wages and salaries are decent enough to support families would significantly change or reduce the culture of corruption in Sierra Leone.Improving the quality of education can encourage better reasoning and valuable understanding of self-service to our nation.Better communication can be beneficial to the government when a nation is increasingly educated.

A healthy population can have a "wealthy attitude" sometimes.We must create better access and provide our people with quality health services to support their philosophy that we can change our attitude if we have a new system that works for everyone.

Poverty, historically, has been a deep seated problem for us.Many attitudes became endemic because many Sierra Leoneans lost faith in their government and leaders whom they felt hold the seat of trust and power.When a child in rural India was surfing on the internet,we were busy fighting a pointless civil war.The conditions of poverty and the attitude of violence as a means to addressing our societal ills led to the death of thousands of Sierra Leoneans with a destroyed economy and a shattered future.Only when we realized a new attitude is needed, did we come out of the most brutual civil war that raged for more than a decade.

Thus,our attitudinal problems are rooted in many political,economic and social inequities that did not balance how we should view,process or understand our shared responsibilities and behavior as citizens.Many Sierra Leoneans felt betrayed because their government allowed them to fall through the cracks.Equally, some attitudes are obstructive towards progress or the good of the country in every dimension of government and public life; they are also fundamentally unnecessary and short sighted.What many Sierra Leoneans fail to understand is that a culture of dishonesty,over- indulgence,nepotism,corruption and tribalism are dangerous attitudes that discourage and hinder human and national development.

To reverse this trend, with the the genuine effort that is being made by the APC government,we must correspondingly address both our social,political and economic inequities.With our new stable democracy,we must begin to fight against the conditions that create poverty,malnutrition,lack of education,poor infrastructures,joblessness and other basic human hardships.Success would be far reaching if we do not fail to address these real issues.

To begin the dialouge/campaign of changing the mind-set that impedes progress is a very commendable approach.The next step is to do very practical thinking and realise that changes can come most meaningfully when we first understand why the "attitude problems" exist in the first place.Then, we can realize the truth to the famous adage that: "when a man is hungry, he is angry."

Photos: Mohamed Bah(top) and some members of the Sierra Leone Community Association of Atlanta.